Monday, November 22, 2010

Paradox in Kiwi Anglican Objections to Covenant

Here in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia we have three member tikanga (or cultural streams of self-organising, limited self-governing churches) which are bound together to work interdependently on matters of common doctrine, liturgy, and order, while being free to work out ministry and mission autonomously among the differing peoples drawn to identify with our respective tikanga - to the point where in the city of Auckland there are three overlapping episcopal jurisdictions providing for the confluence of tikanga. These arrangements stem not from goodwill or bonds of affection but from a binding covenantal commitment to do so according to the revised constitution of our church. That covenantal commitment was provoked by decades of active reflection on the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi, itself a form of covenant between Maori and Pakeha (NZers of European origin or descent).

The advantages of working together within this covenantal relationship include mutual support, encouragement, and people resources, as well as joint access to certain funds belonging to our whole church, these funds being administered by three tikanga committees and boards. The disciplinary consequences of failure to maintain a common life are difficult to define because, to date, such failure has not arisen. We have had some dramatic moments at our General Synods, but when tensions and difficulties have occurred we have found a way to move forward together. An important aspect of this resolve to continually find common ground is the simple fact of the power of our relationship as defined by the constitution: any one of the tikanga may veto a proposal. That is, generally our life together as interdependent tikanga works on bonds of affection but we work out a way forward when those bonds are strained because we know the way of effective veto would prevail if we did not agree together.

In sum: ACANZP works out its communion as three diverse tikanga in one church in a manner which has striking resemblances to the proposed Covenant-led life of the Anglican Communion. Paradoxically, some of the stronger voices objecting to the Covenant are Kiwi voices.

POSTSCRIPT: parallels, non-parallels between ACANZP's structure and the Communion

(1) We have multiple primates (three) who seek to work together and to speak with one voice, consulting and collaborating together.

(2) Our General Synod Standing Committee is proportionally unrepresentative of active Anglicans: it includes the primates and three Polynesian members, five Aotearoa members, and seven NZ Dioceses (Pakeha) members. But 3:5:7 does not represent the proportions re active Anglican involvement which would be more like 1:1:20 for the three tikanga. And, within the NZ Dioceses' representation, each diocese whether 'large' or 'small' gets one representative on the Committee.

(3) General Synod Standing Committee does function as 'synod in session between sessions' which is different to the AC's Standing Committee (which consists of ACC reps and primates, but is not Lambeth Conference in session between Lambeth Conference).

(4) General Synod and General Synod Standing Commitee have limited authority over the tikanga, and over the diocesan synods within the tikanga, but members of General Synod must ratify with a straight majority any nomination for bishop from an electoral synod.


Brother David said...

I can see how there are parallels Peter. But I would think that the organization of your province also means that there are also some big differences. Since some things of ACANZP remains a mystery to those of us from the wider world, where are the differences not even close? Primates Meeting? Representative ACC membership based on provincial member population? The Standing Committee of the AC? Etc.

Peter Carrell said...

I will add a postscript to the post re possible parallels.

liturgy said...

I am too busy, Peter, to look up the Constitution, so please can you help your readers by pointing to the equivalents to “Clause 4” of the “Covenant” in what you are calling our covenant-like Constitution. For your non-kiwi readers, the “bound together to work interdependently on matters of common doctrine, liturgy, and order” is rather romantic. Even in a church in which it is difficult to find any regulations concerning liturgy, I have been, even this week, receiving information, publicly and privately, of a determined lack of binding together liturgically – even on the bare minimum that we are bound by. Even if there are Clause 4 type canons in theory – they are certainly not implemented in practice. So, if we are to be the paradigm of your post-covenanted “Anglicanism”, I do not think it will turn out at all as ordered as you think/hope.

Brother David said...

I think your are off course with number three Peter. The closest equivalent to the Lambeth Conference would be if a province's House of Bishops (or bench or college, by any other name) has meetings apart from meeting as a house in the province's general synod. Some do, some more often than others. I think that it is twice yearly in TEC.

But the SC of the AC, if it is "synod in session between sessions" of anything, it would be the ACC, certainly not the Lambeth Conference.

Lambeth Conference is a tea party. It has no authority. It cannot even be the mind of the communion. Too many Anglicans of all other orders of ministry are not represented in its emissions. And as we witnessed in our lifetime in 1998, is easily kidnapped in its deliberations.

In number 4 in ACANZP, what happens if a gay/lesbian delegate votes along with the straight majority? ;)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I hope I never underestimate the challenge of building an ordered global Communion, and the experiences we have in these islands are salutary in recognising the difficulties to be faced. But I would rather face the difficulties than contribute to the disintegration!

The notion of discipline in our church in relation to our life together is partially found in our canon on discipline (Title D) but also, I suggest, found in the unwritten rules of our life together, namely that dereliction of relationship to each other would have consequences. I do not imagine, for instance, that if one tikanga continued to boycott our General Synods that we would ignore that state of affairs. We might find we would need to come up with an S4 type procedure :)

As for liturgy: there is some truth in what you say, namely, that in many and sundry places what counts for worship may not be very accountable as an authorised form of worship. Nevertheless you know, but do not name here, that our church does liturgical work together through its common life liturgical commission, and through that commission our three tikanga do bring proposals for consideration by General Synod. Sometimes the proposals are not very good, but that is another matter!

Peter Carrell said...

Nothing is straightforward in our church, David :)

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
I'm interested in how the ACANZP structure developed, rather than a model similar to the Anglican Church of Australia. We appoint a bishop to oversee ministry to Aboriginal people, and a separate bishop for Torres Strait Islanders. They are assistant bishops in the diocese of North Queensland, but have freedom to operate elsewhere. We also have a bishop for the Defence Forces who is a non-diocesan bishop. Is it because Polynesians and Maori are more dispersed within New Zealand that this overlapping model developed?
You'll be pleased to know that in a recent review of Indigenous ministry, the Australian church adopted the NZ goal of self- determination for indigenous Anglicans, even though it felt the parallel jurisdiction model wasn't appropriate here.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew,
No, the essential development was due to the new recognition of the foundationalism of the Treaty of Waitangi for NZ society. That led to understanding that two churches, Maori and Pakeha should exist side-by-side through Aotearoa NZ, united under one General Synod. A historical matter (the Diocese of Polynesia is part of our church), a judgement (Polynesia should be a third tikanga, not subsumed under Pakeha), and another matter of past and present (immigration from Fiji and Tonga to NZ) has led to a third overlapping jurisdiction (in reality, mainly confined to Auckland city).

liturgy said...

OK, and again in a rush:
so just to clarify: currently in many and sundry places in the Anglican Communion there is, as I understand your perspective to be, a departure from agreed consensus. So you are recommending we all sign up to an Anglican “Covenant” and that will make us more like the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (NB I agree we’ve got a funny name – but a big stress was made of the in and the comma, Peter ;-) ) where there is, as you write “in many and sundry places” a departure from agreed consensus.
Have I understood it right this time?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
One alternative to seeking unity among Anglicans is to bless chaos. In an attempt to avoid blessing chaos I am suggesting:
(a) it is worth building unity among Anglicans, even though it looks impossible;
(b) the Covenant is a means to build unity, not least because it confronts each member church with the question whether it will commit to building unity;
(c) Kiwi objections to the Covenant are somewhat paradoxical because in our own diverse-with-potential-for-chaos three tikanga situation, we have a form of covenant governing and guiding our relationships;
(d) yes, much diversity remains in ACANZP, some of it reasonable (i.e. within the provisions of our canons), and some of it (arguably) uncanonical;
(e) our life would be much much worse without our revised constitution;
(f) even as we work on unity in the Communion we have much work to do locally;
(g) by God's grace both Communion and ACANZP will grow in unity through attention to our commitments to covenanted life together.

liturgy said...

Particularly for your non-Kiwi readers, Peter: I do not think our diverse-with-potential-for-chaos is because of our three tikanga situation. We are not blessing chaos in NZ – I’m suggesting there are few who are standing up and honestly acknowledging it – the first work to do locally is to be honest about the chaos. When some real unity returns to our province, only then IMO, can we begin to say to the rest of the Communion, something like what we are doing might be a model. Until then I see no justification for your suggestion that Kiwi objections to the Covenant are somewhat paradoxical.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I think there is more unity in our province than you do! There are signs of chaos, and where there is real chaos, there is a lack of candour (agreed). But there are many signs of unity, and there is much which is not chaotic. Even yesterday I noticed a Facebook post that says we have a new Three Tikanga Youth Commissioner: an outcome which represents diverse people working together towards a common goal.